New Light Weapons Table

As we are working in a new edition of the rules, we want to show you the new Light Weapons Table we generated feeding our system with the data from weapons and ammunition used by many countries and guerrillas during WWII.

If you see a modern weapon listed there, just let us know because this is a work in progress and we processed several modern weapons for some test games based in Vietnam and Angolan Civil Wars. Shh. Don’t tell anyone!

Light Weapons Table
Light Weapons Table

Web Undergoing Technical Upgrades

We asked for some upgrades in order to provide a faster service to our users, so, if in the next days you have any kind of trouble with Rattenkrieg.com or BarrageMiniatures.com, this will probably mean that the web has been temporally shut down while the hosting wizards do their magic.

It should be a matter of hours. 🙂

 

Why Rattenkrieg! Is Free Now?

Rattenkrieg! is not the result of a moment of inspiration while watching  a movie, reading a novel or playing a game.

It’s a product of the need to have some rules with which we could do at the game table what can be done during a fight as it is done in combat.

And what started as simple rules for urban combat grew into Rattenkrieg!

We needed four long years to develop and test these rules. Four years without weekends or holidays.

We started from a situation where every decision required investigation, as we knew very little about the details of the period covered by the rules and we knew that we were addressing a very demanding and above all very well documented audience.

Every time a question arose, we could not simply say “with a die, a result of six means death”, but we had to calculate each probability by distilling information from official reports. And the same was true of impact probabilities, effects of explosions, and penetration data for which we had to look for reports from military laboratories.

We also had to develop software to generate the projectile data, the size of each vehicle or the relative thickness of the armor.

Then we spent many months testing, with a team of volunteers of all kinds (from players with a great ego to others capable of cheating, lovers of other rules, etc.) until we got a system that despite simulating very well the actions of a combat during World War II, was fast, light and very enjoyable.

Now Rattenkrieg! has matured enough to be independent. We will continue to improve what needs to be improved, and fixing what should be fixed, but it already has a stable and working final form.

We are very proud of these rules, which have been enriched thanks to the criticisms and experiences of only a few hundred players from all over the world.

By making them FREE, what we get is that those hundreds of players can share Rattenkrieg! with whoever they want, and that those who don’t know the rules can read them and decide if they like it or not without risking their money.

We are sure that these rules will change the way many players view World War II. And they may feel a reflection of what the men who risked their lives fighting eighty years ago felt.

When they try to cross with their men a street swept by machine gun fire, or engage in combat with another tank using Rattenkrieg! we are sure that their way of playing and understanding war games will change forever.

We think these are excellent reasons to offer it for free.

About the Quality

Generally, in Rattenkrieg the units usually have a Quality of three. Only when there are clear differences between the units that face each other, do differences usually appear.

We use a Quality of four if one of the forces is clearly more effective than the other.

The quality of two is used when one of the forces is clearly less effective than the other.

In other cases, we apply adjustments in how command quality is applied; for example, making a platoon leader unable to benefit its men with its own Quality.

For example, when a German paratrooper fights the New Zealand infantry in Crete, we consider the Germans’ Quality to be four because that increase reflects not only their better training, but above all their motivation and enthusiasm, which would undoubtedly be much greater than that of their enemies in those circumstances.

However, when German forces face the Soviets at the beginning of the war, it is the Soviets who not only have a Quality of Two, but also their leaders cannot share their best Quality with their men.

Keep in mind that during a game, a difference of two in Quality can mean that the side with inferior Quality can find itself in very compromised situations where the enemy dominates the game, although an experienced player can overcome that problem using his ingenuity.

It is also important not to fall into the temptation of interpreting “elite” with the meaning with which it is used today.

For example, the SS – traditionally considered as “elite” – in most cases, were for administrative purposes and therefore received more and better materiel. But that does not mean that they received either the best men, or those with the best training, who usually ended up serving at the Heer. There were, of course, exceptions to this rule. In Rattenkrieg!, SS tend to have lower quality than army units, but in return, their aggressiveness is much higher, allowing them to deal with situations where Heer probably would fail.

About Battle Tanks Firing Whilst In Motion (WWII)

One thing is shooting (which if they want to, they can), and quite another is actually hitting the target. At the beginning of the war, it is true that the British and the Soviets learned to shoot whilst the tank was in motion. But both German and Soviet doctrines recommended stopping the tank, in order to hit the target. It makes sense to shoot in motion for suppression or area fire with high explosives.

There are many films with tanks shooting in motion, but they are usually propaganda or educational recordings. When it comes to images of real combats (where it is not so easy to calmly make a recording), tanks usually fire when they have stopped (as in the famous battle of the Cologne Cathedral between a Sherman, a Panther and a Pershing).

If I remember correctly, some Shermans, the M-36, the M-10 and the M-18, the Pershing (and I suppose some others) used gyro stabilizers, but they were neither manageable nor user friendly in combat conditions. Even today (and I speak in REAL combat conditions, not promotional videos) the Syrian army´s tanks – with some modern gyro stabilizers – usually stop to shoot, or do so moving at a very slow pace.

Regarding Aggressiveness

And with regards to the matter of “dead” in the games… I think that what must be counted as NEGATIVE are own losses, rather than counting enemy losses as POSITIVE. I know this is the general custom, but an excessive or inexplicable number of casualties affect the reputation and career of a commander on a much greater scale than the number of people his unit have killed, at least in Western armies and in more or less normal combat situations.

Well, apart from adjustments according to each scenario, there is a general recommendation regarding aggressiveness that says that troops defending within their borders increase their aggressiveness by one, and when defending cities within their borders, by two.

The behavior of the militia, for example, is completely unpredictable, since their aggressiveness is determined at the moment in which they carry out their first action, so it may be that they behave very bravely, or they may just stand still or directly surrender.

Beware of aggression and quality because they are critical and together they regulate a unit´s behavior in combat. In Rattenkrieg! for example, a regular infantry unit of the Heer in Russia will have quality four and aggressiveness two, while one of the SS will have quality three and an aggressiveness also of three. Some paratroopers will have quality four and aggression two, like the Marines.

It should be noted that the SS officers received their training in SS schools and that the Army (Heer) took on recruits with a higher level of education, while the SS took the strongest. In fact, only one of the SS generals came from a German military school and therefore had a “professional” military training.

On Armored Vehicles “Relative Armor”

Another issue is the relative armor …

As I mentioned in the rules, besides the thickness and slope, we must take into account the type of armor (rolled, face-hardened or cast [I´m not sure of the correct technical terms in English]) and its hardness rating.

This has been the biggest problem, as much of this data is unknown territory, or varies over time even in the same factory, so in when in doubt I have opted for the “most likely”.

Data is are entered for each sector of each tank and turret, taking into account which piece of armor the projectile is more likely to impact – here we have no choice but to make arbitrary decisions, due to the incredibly complex geometries, or places where different types of armor are superimposed. Again, I process this data (more than one hundred per tank) using a program that gives me the correct equivalent in millimeters of “relative armor”.

And now for the nightmare … system diagrams … As well as having to look for the plans for each vehicle (and version) – hence the bummer of having to make Italian, French, Polish or Hungarian tanks, which are not well documented and you have to draw on photos – you have to know how and where the ammunition was stored, and IN WHAT POSITION, since what can explode is NOT the explosive (which is super safe), but the propellant.  You have to figure out which system could be affected if a projectile enters from a certain angle for each sector.

This step – the “terminal ballistics” – is simply exhausting because you have to take into account so many factors and a computer can do it, but you´d have to put in so many parameters which would then lead to so many exceptions and dead ends, that I simply sought help (a person with clearly a lot more patience than me and a thousand times more systematic).

Ahhh, but next up are the cannons and projectiles … Because “logically” if two cannons use the same ammunition, that ammunition should cause the same damage to the target…. alas no …

For starters, the length of a cannon has a significant impact …

The propellant projectile comes in several formats. Some are like “threads”, but those used in the Second World War were usually like cylinders or tiny tubes of cordite, because of the importance of the SURFACE AREA that “burns” in a question of microseconds.

They can be as I say, a cylinder. And each cylinder of propellant becomes smaller and smaller as it´s consumed, thereby diminishing its SURFACE AREA.  This means that once it starts to “explode”, its strength decreases. Cylinders are used for relatively short barrels, as the outset of the shot produces the greatest amount of thrust, and this diminishes very quickly.

However if it is a tube of propellant, its outer diameter is reduced as it´s consumed, but it´s interior becomes greater, so once it starts to “explode”, its explosive force is almost constant.

This allows for longer cannons where the load of propellant can be calculated so that the force is maintained while the projectile travels through the bore of the barrel and disappears just when it leaves the mouth.

However there are very long cannons (measured in projectile calibers) and to continue pushing a projectile along a bore (where the space is ever increasing) requires a propellant that “explodes” with more and more force. For this, tubes with several internal channels (like the barrel of a revolver) are used, which when the propellant starts to “explode”, reduce their outer diameter, but increase the diameter of all the interior channels, exposing more and more SURFACE AREA.

So a 75mm projectile DOES NOT WORK the same on any 75mm cannon. The same projectile in a cannon which is too short may exit very slowly because not all the propellant has burnt when the projectile is already out there; in a normal length cannon (for its load) it will fly out exactly at its ideal speed, and in another longer cannon it may get stuck. This is called “Interior ballistics”.

Then there is also everything related to projectiles designed to explode on impact (again Terminal ballistics).  Just as the energy of an inert projectile decreases with distance (the further it goes, the less damage it causes), the energy of projectiles loaded with explosives is always the same (as it explodes upon impact, it makes no difference if the target is near or far, the explosive charge is the same).

And the damage produced by hollow charge projectiles bears no relation to speed, as the damage occurs when the explosives contained in it, project a jet of copper vapor onto a point, but this jet is affected by the projectile´s speed of rotation (because of the centrifugal force).

Mercifully, I have access to data from thousands and thousands of tests carried out in Bovington during the war, although in some cases (of weapons NOT tested in that industrial estate, now also a museum) I had to extract the data using another little program that I had to drum up.

Other data are more simple, such as those related to sights. I simply use the number of magnifications and the field of vision for each cannon. But for detection, what we did was take into account the number, position and turning capacity of “direct” sights (without lens), the artillery sights with lenses and the periscopes. In fact, you will see that some turrets have worse visibility “from the front” than at the sides, precisely because all the sights at the front had a magnifying glass, which reduced their angle of vision to a few degrees.

I got rid of all the messy bits so players could start playing from the outset. The game requires alot of though, so I wanted to save them all the previous calculations.

I eliminated some markers and the tank combat went from being an accounting exercise with dice, to an almost role-playing scenario, with the player announcing in each impulse what each crewman does (which aside from avoiding cheating and other such tricks, adds a certain vividness to the game).

The idea is that if someone has only two or three hours a week to play, these two or three hours should be for them to enjoy and play, not be frustrated, waiting for a dice or a card to appear. Players must go home satisfied, and although it is not within my control if they lose the fight, I will not let them “lose” their morning.

On Doctrine

Although Rattenkrieg! can be played like any other war game (two groups of friends play out a scenario, one side wins and the other loses), there is also another way of playing which is more individual. The issue of Promotion Points (which we are still developing on the web) is more personal, and allows a player to earn points (for himself, not for competing against his opponent) doing things as they would have been done by a Commander of that country using the weapon that would have been used in that scenario.

The promotion system gives points to the player who follows the doctrine for THAT nationality and “branch” (infantry, recon, tanks, tank destroyers) while playing. What you have to do to get those points changes in each scenario, since depending on the year, the situation and the environment, the procedures may be different.

These points do not compare with those of the enemy. They do not award the “Victory”, the latter is determined by the conditions of victory, they simply  measure the actions of the player as “German infantry Lieutenant ” or “Marines Lieutenant “, at least when he plays using that nationality, and that weapon. This system is optional and voluntary, and each player´s progress record is uploaded to the web, where I intend to further it, offering special scenarios, slightly “tailored” to those players who want to learn more.

Thus, whilst the Japanese command in Eniwetok could not win a Victory, he could earn Promotion Points for acting exactly as a Japanese force would in that situation; for NOT firing his machine gun until the Marines are within ten inches, for employing a platoon to “fix” the Marines while another maneuvers until they can shoot those Marines on one flank; or by moving their machine guns every three bursts, or always firing them at the slowest possible rate. Or even for letting their men be killed and then, when the Marines go to check the bodies, some of those “dead” are discovered to have simulated their death in order to explode a grenade as soon as they touch them …

Those Promotion Points would be for the player as Japanese Infantry Command. And quite possibly, if you accumulate a certain number, they will appear in your bookstore of Rattenkrieg! scenarios (“Missions”) for that same command … More or less that is the idea, which is in continuous development given the infinite possibilities it offers…

On Aggressiveness

The Aggression in Rattenkrieg! derives, in large, from TeCol Dave Grossman’s studies (he teaches at West Point, but less so now since he has focused on police training in retirement).  Although some people do not agree with his theories, the truth is that he explains and modulates the mental processes of a man in combat and situations of personal violence, very well. If you are interested, I recommend one of his books titled “On Killing”.

Bear in mind that in World War II, psychology was already able to distinguish between individuals “capable of cold-blooded killing” and those who would find it hard to kill in most circumstances, but was still unable to detect those who would never be able to kill. The first were selected to join special units, or as snipers. The rest were distributed among the remaining weaponry and corps.

That’s why, in Rattenkrieg !, a Commando can approach a sentry and stick a knife between his ribs, but an “average” infantryman if left alone, can dither –AND A LOT – whatever the controlling player says – before doing the same.

However, that same “average” soldier, can loose control and hack an enemy to death if he sees him killing a colleague in cold blood, and that´s nothing compared to if he sees him killing a defenseless civilian or woman.

Aggressiveness is fairly controllable as long as you have a commander at hand.

Aggressiveness is an optional rule, but if it is used, it totally changes the game. Men stop being robots.

Given the little time we all have each week to enjoy ourselves, I wanted to provide players with the tools to make the most of their time and not waste it doing calculations that will then be argued over because someone forgot to add or subtract whatever.

Here you will find the online tool that will help you to apply the Aggressiveness during the game:

https://datacards.rattenkrieg.com/agg.php

 

Spotting, Aggressiveness and (Arty)Fire Online Tools

Some process in the game may require some kind of calculations, and most of us don’t want to think about calculations while we are playing, so I decided to provide tools for those players who prefer their game to be 100% play, as they can only have one morning a month and need to make the most of every second.

The apps are essentially the rules applied. In both, the “die roll” is the “CALCULATE” button. This is why you may get different results for the same situation.

Don’t be scared about the number of sliders! In a normal situation you will need to adjust maybe one or two. But I included every possible option just in case.

The online tool to spot is here: www.rattenkrieg.com/spot.php

For the Aggressiveness Check, here:  www.rattenkrieg.com/agg.php

And to fire artillery or tank guns, here:  www.rattenkrieg.com/fire.php

They are compatible with PCs (with mouse), tablet or mobile (touch screen), and once loaded on the browser, they will still work even if you don´t have WIFI or Data (in case someone goes away for the weekend to a VERY remote place).  Simply move the cursors that change the values, and click on the button “Calculate”.

Welcome!

On July 18, 2019, we decided to allow the free download of Rattenkrieg!

We strongly recommend to download the rules exclusively from Barrage Miniatures or from this Blog.

Link to the Rattenkrieg! Rules PDF

Soon we will be publishing answers to questions and doubts raised in forums or by email and that we believe may be useful for players.

Alf M Comps